[Marxism] Jaime Suchlichi "If Cuba had taken another path"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 16 17:51:51 MST 2005

(It's truly striking that Jaime Suchlicki, who holds
the Bacardi Moreau professorship at the University 
of Miami should return from a visit to Chile asking
himself what might had happened had Cuba followed a
different path. Today's Wall Street Journal, not a
leftist publication, provides a good answer to Prof.
Suchlicki's questions. Cuba had its own Pinochet, a
man named Batista, who abolished Cuba's democratic
electoral system and installed a dictatorship just
like Pinochet did.

Here are just a few paragraphs:

According to the report, released yesterday by the U.S.
Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, Mr.
Pinochet's banking relationships extended beyond Riggs
National Corp.'s Riggs Bank, which pleaded guilty to a
criminal charge related to suspicious transactions it
handled for him. Besides Citigroup, the list includes Bank
of America Corp., Miami-based Espirito Santo Bank, the U.S.
office of Banco de Chile and several smaller banks.

"Through lax due diligence or worse, too many banks allowed
a notorious public figure, Augusto Pinochet, to build a
secret web of U.S. accounts using offshore corporations,
deceptive account names and third-party conduits to hide
his role in moving millions of dollars across international
lines," said Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), the senior
Democrat on the committee.

Mr. Pinochet, 89 years old, who took power in a 1973 coup
and remained president until 1990, has been accused of
involvement in human-rights abuses and other wrongdoing. He
has been the subject of legal actions in several countries
but has never been convicted. News of the secret bank
accounts is making it harder for defenders of Mr.
Pinochet's regime to continue supporting him.

Citigroup had a "substantial, years-long relationship" with
Mr. Pinochet and his family dating back to 1981, the report
said. Senate investigators identified 63 U.S. accounts and
certificates of deposit opened for Mr. Pinochet and his
family in New York and Miami between 1981 and 2004, the
report said.

Mr. Pinochet's 15 personal accounts with Citigroup were
opened under "disguised variants of his name," the report
said, and the two managers in charge of his accounts "never
met their client and did not know his true identity." In
addition, neither ever evaluated the source of the funds.
The personal accounts were closed by 1995 after his
identity was discovered.


Posted on Wed, Mar. 16, 2005	

If Cuba had taken another path


I returned from a visit to Chile with a heavy, saddened
heart. Not because of what I saw in that prosperous,
democratic and dynamic South American country, but because
I wonder what Cuba would have been had it followed Chile's

The two countries have significant similarities. Chile has
a population of 14 million, Cuba 12 million and they are
remarkably similar in size. Historically Chile has had one
major export -- copper; Cuba: sugar and nickel. Both lack
petroleum resources or other mineral wealth. In 1959, Chile
and Cuba were prosperous and modern. By Latin American
standards, they were far ahead of most countries in the

The similarities end there. Today Chile is a democratic,
vibrant country, with an economy that shines. The Chilean
miracle is the result of various factors, including a
strong entrepreneurial class and governments that, since
the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, have nurtured
this entrepreneurial class, providing incentives and
interfering little with their activities.

Even now under the leadership of a socialist regime and its
president, Ricardo Lagos, these neo-liberal policies have
continued. The Chileans also encourage foreign investments,
primarily from Europe, in an effort to expand its export
sector. All of this, in a democratic framework, that
respects human rights, protects the less-privileged sectors
of society and provides a superb health and education

In contrast, Cuba flounders under a dictatorship led by an
unbending caudillo who opposes the United States, supports
revolutionary and terrorist groups and attempts to build a
Marxist-Leninist society. More than 46 years of repression,
mismanagement and misguided policies have created misery
and poverty for Cubans.

The most troublesome issue may be the legacy of Castroism.
After the end of the Castro era, there will be the awesome
task of economic reconstruction. Cuba does not have a
viable economy of its own. It lacks an internal market, a
negotiable currency or a rational pricing structure.
Persistent government deficits and accelerated downward
spiraling have led to a dead end.

In addition to these vexing realities, there will also be a
maze of legal problems posed by the issue of the legality
of foreign investments and the validity of property rights
acquired during the Castro era. Obviously, Cuban nationals,
Cuban-Americans and foreigners whose properties were
confiscated by the Castro regime will all want to reclaim
them or will ask for fair compensation.

Economic and legal problems are not, however, the only
challenges facing Cuba's future. Some of the critical
problems that a post-Castro Cuba will have to deal with

. The continuous power of the military and the growth of
their involvement in the economy;

. A free and restless labor movement, seeking vindications
and better working conditions;

. Simmering racial tension, accentuated by economic
inequalities produced, in part, by remittances going mostly
to the white populations;

. Instilling new values in a population used to stealing,
working little and disobeying laws;

. The unwillingness of society to sacrifice further and
endure the difficult years that will follow the end of

The future of Cuba is, therefore, clouded with
uncertainties. Yet Cuba has at least three unique
advantages: proximity to, and long tradition of relations
with, the United States; an attraction as a tourist Mecca;
and a large and wealthy exile population.

These three factors could converge to transform Cuba's
economy, but only if a future Cuban leadership creates the
necessary conditions: an open, legally fair economy and an
open, tolerant political system. Meanwhile, Chileans seem
to have been dealt the better cards while Cubans have been
shut out of the game.

Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau professor of
history and international studies and the director of the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the
University of Miami.

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